Laxman irked by treatment of seniors

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New Delhi, Nov 21 (UNI) Despite playing his 100th Test recently against Australia at Nagpur, VVS Laxman feels he could contribute a lot more to Indian cricket and is irked by speculations that the senior players in the squad are on their way out.

With Sourav Ganguly and Anil Kumble announcing their retirements during the recently concluded series against Australia, there were speculations that Rahul Dravid and Laxman were also biding their time.

However, the stylish Hyderabadi lashed out at critics for suggesting that the so caled 'Fab Four' are well past their prime, and asserted that they played a big part in Team India's success in recent times.

''We have all contributed our bit to Indian cricket and we all know when is the time for us to retire. It was degrading our contribution to Indian cricket,'' he said. ''After the Sri Lanka tour, it was tough. Media reports about when a player should retire and when is the time for him to go, which is discouraging and it hurts you.'' ''But doubts have been there right throughout my career. There have been various reports that I should not be playing in certain matches. So I don't think about things which are beyond my control.

As long as I get an opportunity to go out and do my bit, I will be quite happy with that,'' Laxman said in an interview to CNN-IBN.

Laxman made his Test debut in 1996, but rues the fact that he failed to grab a permanent spot in the team in the early part of his career.

''I made my international debut in 1996 and till 2000; I was never a regular member of the Indian cricket team,'' he lamented.

''Even though I was given one or two opportunities here and there, I never played Test cricket continuously. I have always been put under pressure. Those four years of international cricket really taught me to become mentally tough.'' Asked about his feeling in Nagpur when he walked out for the 100th time as a Test cricketer, Laxman said, ''on that day, I was not feeling anything, because it was an important match and the time I walked in, three quick wickets had fallen. So I was just concentrating on the job at hand.

''Everyone dreams of playing for India, and me playing 100 matches for India was definitely one of the proud moments in my life.'' The 34-year-old is pleased with the fact that India has become much more competitive during overseas tours and feels the team has come a long way since he started playing.

''We as a team have done well. Since the time I started and till now, I think we have progressed well as a team and we have achieved a lot of laurels and have all contributed in achieving our goals, especially our victories overseas, which is what we all craved for when we started our cricket,'' he beamed. ''And achieving that is definitely not going to be an individual contribution but as a team we all have contributed. I never think about being overshadowed.

It's been a great journey.'' MORE UNI AB RKM HS1533

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